The superheroes behind the capes

Alexandria Park Community School students worked with local Aboriginal artist Dennis Golding to reveal their secret powers, writes Billy Kos.

10 November 2021
Rows of capes hanging on a white board as part of an exhibition.
Image: Collaboration: Dennis Golding’s work, The Future is Here, on display at Carriageworks in Redfern. Image: Zan Wimberley.

An exhibition featuring superhero capes made by students from Alexandria Park Community School is now on display at Sydney’s Carriageworks.

The Future is Here is the result of a collaboration between the school and artist Dennis Golding last year, where 170 Indigenous students were invited to produce a personal symbol on their own superhero cape.

Alexandria Park Community School principal Diane Fetherston said the exhibition was a strong reflection of the school’s pride in its Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students and community.

It also highlighted the respect that deepened when students had the opportunity to connect with Aboriginal people and local organisations such as Carriageworks.

“We were honoured to have Dennis Golding as our resident artist last year to inspire our students not only design these incredible capes, but also use the experience to connect with their Aboriginal culture,” Ms Fetherston said.

“During the workshops, Dennis worked with staff and students from Kindergarten to Year 12 to tap into their culture and create a design for their capes that reflect their own experience and identity.

“It was a very meaningful opportunity for our school and we are proud and honoured to have our students’ work on display at Carriageworks for everyone to enjoy.”

Artist Dennis Golding said he felt a connection to the students, having grown up in the area himself.

“The children allocated to me were children of parents I’d grown up with down in Eveleigh Street, so it was a really great connection,” he told the Carriageworks Journal.

“Some of the young people also knew me. It gave them a sense of comfort which enabled them to explore these themes.”

The students were asked to create symbols on their capes that reflect the special quality or power they would have as a superhero, with Dennis’s own super power being ‘invisibility’.

“The reason I do this is to help bring stronger and more empowering representations of contemporary Aboriginal culture within urban spaces,” Mr Golding said.

“It’s that same feeling you get when you put on a costume, how you feel a sense of transformation. Or empowerment. That’s what I wanted to give to these kids.

“When I went around in the workshops and asked them what their superpower would be, a lot said invisibility too, which was incredible,” he told the Journal.

The partnership is part of Solid Ground, which provides education, training and employment pathways for Indigenous Australian youth in Redfern, Waterloo and Blacktown.

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